Intended for healthcare professionals


Measles: neither gone nor forgotten

BMJ 2018; 362 doi: (Published 25 September 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;362:k3976

This article has a correction. Please see:

  1. Helen Bedford, professor of children’s health1,
  2. David Elliman, consultant community paediatrician2
  1. 1UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, London, UK
  2. 2Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to: D Elliman david.elliman{at}

Antivaccine sentiment isn’t the only problem

It is 50 years since measles vaccine was introduced in the UK and 20 years since it was replaced with the highly effective measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine. In 2017, the World Health Organization declared that measles had been eliminated from the UK; this means that measles is no longer endemic, not that it has disappeared.1

Another 42 of the 53 member states in the WHO European region have been reported as having interrupted the endemic spread of measles, yet epidemics of measles are occurring across Europe.2 The region saw more cases of measles (over 41 000, including at least 37 deaths) in the first six months of 2018 than in any other complete year of the decade.3 In England, three times as many cases of laboratory confirmed measles have been recorded up to 10 September 2018 than in the whole of 2017 (876 v 267).4

Why is this happening? Detailed examination of the cases occurring in the European Economic Area (EEA) in the 12 months from July 2017 to June 2018 showed that in the …

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